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The Brick Industry Worldwide

Globally brick kilns burn 375,000,000 tonnes of coal per year, e.g. in India the industry the third-highest user of coal.

The introduction of a fuel-efficient, cost-effective kiln technology that produces high-quality bricks is economically, socially and environmentally critical. HZZK technology provides a kiln that meets the needs of the brick industry in the developing world.

The brick industry in the developing world is a vast, coal burning and polluting industry almost entirely lacking automation. 1,500 billion bricks are produced globally each year, of these 1,300 billion bricks (or 87%) are from Asia.

Rapidly accelerating urbanization at an average rate of 6% p.a, this growth is driving increasing demand for bricks. Solid, fired clay bricks are among the most widely used building materials.

The cost of fuel and its availability is a major concern for brick entrepreneurs.

The labour-intensive exercise of hand moulding clay into bricks (Hand-made bricks), is the predominant way of shaping green bricks in developing countries. In contrast, bricks in the developed world are machine-made, fired in highly automated electricity-dependent tunnel kilns using a skilled labour force. The brick sector in developing countries is generally labour intensive and non-mechanized. The lack of automation is the result of a number of factors, including;

  • Availability of a pool of a mainly itinerant, low-cost workforce.
  • The workforce is mainly drawn from subsistence farmers and this is their only source of cash income.
  • Lack of access to consistent electricity/power supply to run machinery.
  • The extremely high capital cost of establishing mechanized kilns and the resultant extended payback periods for their owners in what is a free enterprise system in most countries


Country Production % No. Billion P.A.
China 66.67% 1,000
India 13.33% **200
Pakistan 3.00% 45
Vietnam 1.67% 25
Bangladesh 1.13% 17
Nepal 0.40% 6
Rest of Asia 0.47% 7
Total Asia 86.67% 1,300
USA 0.53% 8
UK 0.37% 4
Australia 0.13% 2
Rest of World 12.40% 186
Total Rest of World (Incl. Latin America) 13.33% 200

Global Brick Production

100.00% 1,500

Source: Ellen Baum – Session 1, Mexico & India: GKSPL Estiate, Pakistan: Estimate based on CIWCE report Lahore, Bangladesh & China: ESMAP & World Bank Report, Vietnam: Ministry of Construction Vietnam

* Figures are based on a very conservative 300,000 brick kilns, today there are more than 500,000.  In India alone it is estimated there are up to 280,000 kilns and the industry is still expanding.

** Increased to 250-300 Billion in 2019

A Snapshot of the Indian Brick Industry

  • Consumes 30-35 million tonnes coal p.a, biomass (12-16 million tonnes p.a. ) agricultural residue, sawdust, rice husks, scavenged fuels, e.g. wood, oil and car tyres. Up to 280,000 kilns; 90% are rudimentary, non-standardised, unorganized sector.
  • 65% of brick production occurs on the northern Indo-Gangetic Plains (bordering the Himalayas), “the region that experiences the most extreme levels of air pollution in the world”. Kiln clusters of 300-500 kilns operate on city limits
  • World’s 2nd largest producer of bricks, 250-300 billion p.a. (mostly handmade)
  • India is the largest Black Carbon emitter in South Asia. The brick sector represents two-thirds of total industrial sector BC emissions. More than 100,000 tonnes BC p.a. Highly polluted, New Delhi estimated 15% PM2.5 attributed to kilns.
  • Brick manufacturing is the second highest coal consumer after steel industry in India. Demand increase 200%-300% expected by 2030
  • Employs approximately 15 million workers: many in extremely harsh, unsafe working conditions, including modern day slavery, debt bondage and child labour

CCAC Mitigating Black Carbon PDFThe Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) recently published a comprehensive and interesting report on the worlds brick industry: ‘Mitigating Black Carbon And Other Pollutants From Brick Production’